"Perhaps it is God's will," writes Dillon Wallace, "that I finish the work / of exploration that Hubbard began" (from The Lure of Labrador Wild, 1905). For those who hear it, the call to travel north becomes insufferable. In the summer of 2012, I gave in. Five companions and I journeyed over 800 kilometers across the Canadian tundra following the Hubbards, route down the George River. Who can say what voice utters this call? It speaks to our most vulnerable selves. It teases out desire for adventure, pride, or love. It never grows silent.
The photographs in The Height of Land attempt to capture in image what I cannot put into words. The selection explores the daunting physical and spiritual commitment it takes to cross a body of land and the importance of companionship in an uninhabited country. Some images exhibit bodily or emotional duress and may leave the viewer wondering 'why did someone choose to spend large quantities of time and money to finish this trip?' The space opened between the image and the viewer's understanding-this is where the lure of the north speaks, insistent and patient, waiting to address anyone who hears it.
I am interested in the male figure as a source of scripted desire and concealed shame. To download or send a digital image, it must be transcribed into binary, and re-formed upon each viewing. This code precedes the image; it limits it; it determines it. Like digital technology, queer desire must travel down previously prescribed paths. It must find a way to fit into spaces that were not designed for it. And yet, the most subtle gaze or action (or pixel) can alter the entire frame.
For the past year, I have been photographing white-water kayakers, canoeists, and the rugged landscapes they travel through. This work aims to push aside traditional concepts of pastoral aesthetics and capture the beauty and desire that paddlers exhibit through their spirit. My subjects are defined by what they do, and they become themselves in the doing. They desire to return to a more simple, off-the-grid way of life one that is full of challenge, adventure, independence and spontaneity. I'm fascinated with photography's ability to express the intimacy between the paddler and the challenges posed by his journey.